ISABEL DE STEIGER (1836-1927) This part of the life-by-dates begins in 1894, when Isabel moved to Edinburgh. It ends with a warehouse fire in the summer of 1900 in which most of Isabel’s possessions were destroyed.
UPDATE MARCH 2023. It’s great to have found some more letters and articles by Isabel after several years in which I hadn’t come across anything new.
THE LAYOUT BELOW which I hope isn’t too difficult to read.
What Isabel was doing, tends to be in italics. My comments, and the sources, are typed in my usual Times New Roman.
Lastly, before we start, a quick note on her name: she was baptised with it spelled in the French way - Isabelle - and did return to that spelling from time to time in her life. For most of her life, however, she used ‘Isabel’ and I’ll stick with that.
A new GD temple was set up in Edinburgh, to be known as Amen-Ra.
Source: R A Gilbert’s GD Companion. Wellingborough, Northants: The Aquarian Press. 1986: p37. Some GD members living in Scotland had petitioned for a new temple in Edinburgh in April 1893. It took a few months for their request to be granted by both Samuel Mathers (now living in Paris) and William Wynn Westcott; but on 19 December 1893 Westcott was in Edinburgh to take charge of the consecration ceremony. By 1897 the new temple had 54 members, many of whom were TS members as well.
Comment by Sally Davis: see my previous file on Isabel, covering 1890 to early 1894, for the trouble she had been having attending GD meetings in Bradford while she was living in Liverpool. It’s likely that the news of a temple operating in Edinburgh helped her make up her mind to move there. Its imperator was John William Brodie-Innes and its cancellaria his wife Frances, both friends of Isabel’s from the late 1880s.
PROBABLY BEFORE AUGUST 1894
Isabel moved from Liverpool to 20 Dublin Street Edinburgh. As well as joining its Amen-Ra GD temple, she continued to be an active member of the TS. She went to the weekly meetings of the TS’s Scottish Lodge, held in the Edinburgh home of John William and Frances Brodie-Innes.
Source for the move: Memorabilia p270 but without an exact date.
Source for Isabel’s address in Edinburgh: Theosophical Society membership register but again without an exact date for the change of address.
Comment by Sally Davis: Dublin Street was on the edge of the 18th century estate known as the New Town; and about five minutes’ walk from Royal Circus where the Brodie-Innes’s lived.
4 AUGUST 1894
Isabel had a letter published in the magazine Light in which she said that she thought she had seen the same ghostly face in two different photographs.
Source: Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Published London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 14 1894; issues between August and September.
Comment by Sally Davis: what an uproar this letter caused! Isabel only meant to suggest that the same spirit had placed itself in the way of two photographs taken several years apart. She wasn’t accusing anyone of fraud - but that’s how her letter was understood by a lot of Light’s readers.
The second of the two appearances of the same ghost, that Isabel thought she had seen, was in the photograph which was the frontispiece to The Veil Lifted, published in 1893 and edited by a member of the London Spiritualist Alliance, Andrew Glendinning. The book consisted mostly of the texts of recent lectures on spiritualism; but there were also some photographs purporting to feature spirits photographed during séances presided over by the well-known medium David Duguid of Glasgow. That the photographs were genuine had already been doubted by Practical Photographer. But Isabel rapidly became thought of as the first person to question them in a spiritualist magazine. Isabel wrote to Light several times, saying that she did believe that spirits from the astral plane could be photographed in certain circumstances. The point she had been trying to make was that she thought the same spirit from the astral plane had been photographed by Mr Duguid; and in the photograph of a German painting which had been bought (the photograph, that is) by some friends of hers. She had noticed the similarity when dining with them at their house in Edinburgh and had written to Light to tell its readers about the curious coincidence.
The vehemence of the response from Light’s readers, Mr Glendinning, and friends of Mr Duguid clearly took Isabel by surprise. In an attempt to pacify all the people who wrote in cricitising her for something she hadn’t actually said, she asked her Edinburgh friends if they would allow their photograph to be displayed at Light’s offices in London so that interested parties could inspect it so as to judge how similar it was to the frontispiece. Her friends turned out to be GD and TS members John William and Frances Brodie-Innes; and the series of letters in Light ended with a furious letter from John William Brodie-Innes, saying that he would bring his photograph with him next time he came to London and it would be available for inspection in his barristers’ chambers though certainly not in Light’s offices; but he would not bring it with him unless the harrassment of him and Isabel ceased. It did cease; but I’ve no idea what happened afterwards because Light never referred to the matter again. Duguid’s photographs of spirits were faked (see wikipedia) and Isabel is credited with inadvertently starting the chain of events that led to the discovery of how the faking was done - not at all what she had intended!
WHILE ISABEL WAS LIVING IN EDINBURGH so probably mid- to late-1890s
Isabel became very friendly with the artist Mrs Traquair. As women artists they had a problem in common - getting their paintings exhibited. Isabel was not allowed to join the Royal Scottish Academy.
Source: Memorabilia p183.
Comment by Sally Davis: Mrs Traquair - Phoebe Anna Traquair - is better known now than Isabel, mostly because so much of her work is still in existence; but also because she had a wider range than Isabel, doing murals as well as easel painting, illustration work, and jewellery design. There’s a detailed biography of her at www.oxforddnb.com. There was no need for Isabel to take personally the refusal of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) to let her join, and I hope she didn’t. Despite moving in very cultured circles in Edinburgh and so having all the right contacts, Mrs Traquair wasn’t offered membership until 1920 and even then it was only honorary. Just another case of male institutions keeping female artists down: members, naturally, got priority if exhibition space was short.
Just confirming that Isabel was never a member of the RSA: The Royal Scottish Academy 1826-1916 list of members exhibiting; compiled by Frank Rinder. Originally published 1917; British Library’s copy is Kingsmead Reprints 1975: p384 Isabel isn’t listed.
?EARLY TO 1890s; first publication 1895
Isabel must have been working on her translation from the German of the letters of Councillor von Eckartshausen, which she published as The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary. In his introduction to Memorabilia (pxi) A E Waite saw this as Isabel’s greatest contribution to mystical literature in English. But Isabel hardly mentions it in Memorabilia at all.
Source: publication date and Memorabilia AE Waite’s Preface pxi.
BETWEEN 1894 AND 1901
Isabel exhibited no new paintings.
Comment by Sally Davis: as well as her translation of The Cloud upon the Sanctuary, in the mid-1890s Isabel was also preparing for her 2nd Order initiation in the GD. Reaching that level involved a lot of reading, and exams as well. However, the lack of new work continued after her 2nd Order initiation and perhaps indicates a decline in Isabel’s creativity and/or enthusiasm for painting.
ISSUE OF JANUARY 1895
A serialisation of The Cloud upon the Sanctuary began in the last issue of A E Waite’s magazine The Unknown World.
John Robert Henry Dubourg married Rose Ellen Hutchings, in Liverpool.
Comment by Sally Davis: see the previous file in this life-by-dates for the Dubourg brothers, both GP’s in Liverpool. Isabel got to know them in the early 1890s and still knew them in the 1920s – Henry Dubourg was one of the executors of her Will. The Dubourgs were members of Stella Matutina before the first World War; though Isabel was not a member herself.
BY SUMMER 1895
Isabel was living at 7 London Street Edinburgh.
Source: The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibitors 1826-1990 editor Charles Baile de Laperrière. Calne: Hilmarton Manor Press 1991. Volume 4 R-Z p615 entry for Steiger, de; Mme Isabel:
After a gap of a decade, Isabel exhibited a work at the Royal Scottish Academy exhibition in Edinburgh. She showed her Lorelei painting, borrowing it temporarily from her friends William and Fanny Crosfield, who had bought it.
The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibitors 1826-1990 editor Charles Baile de Laperrière. Calne: Hilmarton Manor Press 1991. Volume 4 R-Z p615 entry for Steiger, de; Mme Isabel. Catalogue number 68: The Lorelei Maiden Singing to the Fishermen Below.
Comment by Sally Davis: although Isabel continued to live in Edinburgh for several more years, this was the last year she showed anything at the RSA. The Lorelei had first been exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 1883; it was probably bought by the Crosfields then.
Isabel was reading the memoirs of Diana Vaughan; they were being published in monthly instalments in Paris.
Comments by Sally Davis: it was a story that had everything – even today I think you might say that. A secret satanic cult embedded in the freemasonry of the southern US, plotting to take over the world. One of its ex-sex slaves, now on the run, bringing with her previously unheard of occult knowledge. And for 19th century readers – this bit doesn’t have quite the same ring these days – an ex-satanist newly converted to Roman Catholicism, anxious to make amends; a plot twist that turned out to be more relevant than it seemed.
From looking at Light during the 1890s I’d say that occultists in the UK had missed out on most of the excitement. The idea of devil-worship by supposedly respectable occultists had been causing horror in France since the publication of a book called Le Diable au XIX siècle in 1892, but the uproar didn’t make its way across the Channel until September 1895, when Isabel’s friend Charles Carleton Massey made Light’s readers aware of Diana Vaughan. He had been reading the memoirs since serialisation of her story had begun in July. In the issue of 14 September 1895, a long letter from him about it and her was published, including translations of excerpts from the story so far. Light’s readers were transfixed and for the next few months, issues of Light were full of their comments - which were not always on the aspects of the story that most caught the eye. They were intrigued by Diana Vaughan’s claim to be a descendant of the English occult writer Thomas Vaughan – how might that be possible? And they also wondered how the manuscripts she now claimed possession of, supposedly by one of the many occult writers calling themselves some variation of ‘Philalethes’, had reached the United States where she claimed to have obtained them.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their offices 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 15 January-December 1895.
- issue of 14 September 1895 pp435-39: Luciferian Palladism, by ‘CCM’ the usual writing initials of Charles Carleton Massey. Note the length of this letter! Five pages of foolscap!
- issue of 2 November 1895 pp534-35: that week’s group of letters on the subject, under the general heading of Luciferians and Freemasonry, included one each by Massey and by Isabel.
Massey replied to one strand of recent comment in Light to say that, contrary to what some writers were suggesting – that it could never happen here - a satan-worshipping Luciferian group setting up in London would rapidly become very fashionable, especially if its rituals were as suggested in Diana Vaughan’s memoir. On p535 Isabel’s letter: Luciferianism.
- issue of 23 November 1895 pii of the small ads included one for A E Waite’s Magical Writings of Thomas Vaughan – Waite taking advantage of the current surge of interest in the man Diana Vaughan was claiming as an ancestor.
2 and 30 November; and 15 December 1895
Letters from Isabel were amongst the letters in Light on Diana Vaughan in those issues. She took up the question of the satanic cult’s manuscripts; but also wrote about the wider questions she thought were raised by Diana Vaughan’s case. Her letters confirmed that she had read not only Le Diable au XIX siècle but also all the Diana Vaughan volumes so far.
Comments by Sally Davis: neither Le Diable au XIX siècle nor the Diana Vaughan memoir had been published in England; and there was no translation so far of either of them into English. So like Charles Carleton Massey, Isabel was reading them in French, straight from Paris. Her letter of 2 November 1895 commented on the Diana Vaughan memoirs but also on a recent article by Charles Webster Leadbeater, published in Lucifer, about the Indian cult of Jagannath. She saw both cults as illustrating the double dangers of demonic power – exercising it; and chasing after it in ignorance or vanity. She noted how easy it was for people to fall to destruction while trying to gain that power – a theme she returned to in letters over the next few years. She wrote that when she spoke of the dangers it was from personal experience – she had tried to gain that kind of power herself at one time. The context reads as if she had tried to achieve it through spiritualism, which now she called ignorant magic. Fortunately in her case, “no evil results followed”. She warned Light’s readers to approach magic not lightly nor in haste, but with respect.
About the manuscripts, Isabel had obviously been reading Diana Vaughan’s story very closely: she’d found something in the margins of one of the volumes about a manuscript called Introitus Apertus which Diana Vaughan had left in a depository in Charleston. Maybe this amount of occult detail in the memoir was beginning to give her pause for thought: she said in her letter that she’d want a lot more proof of authenticity before she believed the manuscript was genuine.
Lucifer volume XVII September 1895-March 1896; editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead. London and Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society. And Adyar, Madras: office of The Theosophist. Jagannath, by Charles Webster Leadbeater pp147-52. This may be the same story that was published in a volume of Leadbeater’s works as Jagannath: A Tale of Hidden India.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their offices 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 15 January-December 1895.
- issue of 2 November 1895 p535: letter from Isabel: Luciferianism.
- issue of 30 November 1895 pp582-583: letter from Isabel on Eirenaeus Philalethes in America; and the manuscript which had fallen into the possession of Diana Vaughan.
- issue of 7 December 1895 p593 letter from A E Waite which confirmed in passing that there was as yet no English translation of Le Diable au XIX siècle.
- issue of 15 December 1895 pp607-08: letter from Isabel making more suggestions about how the manuscript in Charleston might have got to America.
- issue of 14 December 1895 p607: letter from Charles Carleton Massey reporting that he had turned down an offer from an English publisher to translate not the Diana Vaughan memoir, but the earlier book Le Diable au XIX siècle. On pp607-08 letter from Isabel on Eirenaeus Philalethes in America.
See Tobias Churton’s Occult Paris for more on the decade-long hoax that reached a triumphant crescendo with the invention of Diana Vaughan. The hoaxer, Gabriel Jogand-Pagès, used a variety of pseudonyms to publish books and articles on satanism, including Le Diable au XIX siècle, supposedly by a Dr Bataille. His aim was to make public fools of the freemasons and the Roman Catholic church in France. He certainly succeeded in that, and had the added satisfaction of taking in the occultist community in Paris and then in England.
In January 1897 a short item in Light reported that a Paris magazine was saying that Diana Vaughan was the wife of the writer Leo Taxil. Leo Taxil was one of the pseudonyms that Gabriel Jogand-Pagès had been using. Realising that it would not be long before he himself was ‘outed’, Jogand-Pagès called a press conference to introduce Diana Vaughan to the public. Many people were longing to meet her, including the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church, anxious to celebrate such a convert. Instead, the audience met Jogand-Pagès, there to admit that the satanic cult and its members were a fake and that he was the author of all the recent publications on the subject. I think the editors of Light felt as much taken in as anyone: they gave virtually no coverage to the ending of the saga. An anonymous writer to Light commented in March on how easily everyone had been taken in, by Dr Bataille and Diana Vaughan. How easy it was to be wise after the event!
Sources in 1897:
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at 2 Duke Street Adelphi. Volume 17 January-December 1897. Issue of 9 January 1897 p17 article The Diana Vaughan Exposure. Issue of 6 March 1897 p112, anonymous article In the Sanctuary.
Final comments from Sally Davis on this fascinating sidelight on the 1880s and 1890s: How did Jogand-Pagès do it? - he kept up the hoax in various ways for a decade. I can only suppose that he didn’t tell anyone at all what he was doing; so no one could give him away even by accident. He used a variety of different writing names and there was no reason for any reader to suppose they were all the same person. And while he knew enough about occultism to bluff convincingly, especially those who wanted to believe, he doesn’t seem to have been an active member of Paris’s occult community; so that people who were in that community were not well enough acquainted with him to wonder if he were – say – Dr Bataille.
Full publication details of Churton’s book: Tobias Churton, Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Époque. Rochester Vermont, Toronto Canada: Inner Traditions. 2016
There still has not been an English translation of Le Diable au XIX siècle or of Diana Vaughan’s memoirs – after February 1897 no publisher was interested.
Isabel was initiated into the GD’s inner, 2nd Order.
Source: RAG Companion p141 though it’s not clear from the entry where the initiation took place.
Isabel sneaked a short review of a novel into Light. The book in question was The Cruciform Mark, written by Riccardo Stephens, shortly to become a GD member.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their offices 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 16 January-December 1896 issue of Sat 16 May 1896 p237.
Comment by Sally Davis: Isabel was well aware that Light did not normally review fiction. She gave two reasons for breaking the rule in this case: the novel’s use of hypnotism as a plot device; and its description of what she called a “magical ceremony” in which one of the book’s characters takes a major role. She ended her letter by raising the question: is disease caused by insanity, or insanity by disease?
Briefly on Riccardo Stephens – very briefly because it’s been so difficult to find out anything about him. Probably born 1860 in England, he worked in an office for several years before studying medicine at Edinburgh University. He qualified in medicine and surgery in 1893 but doesn’t seem to have worked as a doctor. Instead he started to write. The Cruciform Mark was his first novel, published 1896. He was only initiated into the GD in July 1896, probably on the strength of the book, but perhaps when the book came out. The Cruciform Mark was quite widely reviewed and the use of insanity as a plot device attracted the attention of the American Journal of Insanity in its volume 53 1896 p579.
The novel: The Cruciform Mark. The Strange Story of Richard Tregenna. Riccardo Stephens. London: Chatto and Windus 1896.
30 MAY 1896
A letter from Isabel in Light showed her still concerned with the implications of Diana Vaughan’s memoir.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their offices at 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 16 January-December 1896. Issue of Sat 30 May 1896 p263.
Comments by Sally Davis: just mentioning here that the satanism in France hoax was still running at this stage. In this letter Isabel confirmed that she had read both the Diana Vaughan memoirs and the earlier Le Diable au XIX siècle. With them in mind, she described the world of occult knowledge as dangerous territory (perhaps Africa, the dark continent, was in her mind). However, the occult world was not completely unknown: earlier travellers had been there and written of their experiences. She advised people making ready to go into the world of occult knowledge for the first time to read these reports; not to begin their journey with no preparation. There was both light and dark in that world and people’s experience of them would depend on how well-prepared they were to encounter them both.
John Robert Henry Dubourg’s only child, Gladys Osborne Dubourg, was born in Liverpool.
Source: Familysearch baptism record: 18 June 1896 at St Mary-for-the-Blind Liverpool. Also freebmd where her surname is written as ‘Du Bourg’.
Comment by Sally Davis: even if Isabel didn’t know the Dubourgs yet, the birth of Gladys is important because in due course, she inherited all the paintings and painting paraphernalia that Isabel had in her house at her death.
1896, PROBABLY LATE IN THE YEAR
The Cloud upon the Sanctuary by Councillor Carl von Eckhartshausen, translated from the German and with notes by Isabel, was published in London by George Redway.
Comments by Sally Davis: Isabel had asked John William Brodie-Innes to do the preface. They had obviously discussed the content and meaning of the letters many times. On pvii and pviii Brodie-Innes described Isabel’s work as “admirable” but doubted that von Eckhartshausen’s vision of an “Interior Church” would be much welcomed by British church-goers too focused on their concept of a “Church Triumphant”. Despite Brodie-Innes’ reservations, the book sold well enough to be given a 3rd issue, enlarged and with an introduction by A E Waite, by William Rider and Son in 1909.
ISSUE OF 15 NOVEMBER 1896
The Cloud upon the Sanctuary was reviewed in Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine by Isabel’s good friend Patience Sinnett.
Source: Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XIX number 111.
Isabel was painting the ritual vault at the rooms used by the GD’s Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh.
Source: Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73. Letter from Isabel to the GD’s Frederick Leigh Gardner; no date but has to be late December 1896.
Isabel read Religion and Art, William Ashton-Ellis’s English-language edition of Wagner’s prose works.
Via google to Religion und Kunst by Richard Wagner published 1880 as volume 6 of his Prose Works. Though Isabel’s German was well up to reading the work in its original language, she does specifically say that it was Ashton-Ellis’ translation that she read.
Richard Wagner’s Prose Works edited by William Ashton-Ellis; volume VI: Religion and Art published 1897 London: Kegan Paul Trench Trübner and Co.
For Isabel reading this volume (she didn’t mention reading any others): Memorabilia p133.
Isabel’s niece Constance Helena Burton, daughter of Isabel’s sister Rosamond, married Norman McCorquodale.
Comment by Sally Davis: Constance’s marriage was - in 19th-century terms - the best that any of Rosamond and Edmund Charles Burton’s daughters made. It had a Liverpool connection: the man she was marrying was the son of George McCorquodale of Liverpool and Newton-le-Willows, founder of the stationery and publishing firm, McCorquodale and Company, that at one time held the contract to print the magazine Harpers and Queen. Constance’s husband, Norman, worked for his father’s firm, and so in his turn did their son. Shortly after their marriage, Constance and Norman bought Winslow Hall, on the road from Aylesbury into the town of Winslow Buckinghamshire. They were still living there when Isabel died.
Some information on the firm’s founder, and on Constance’s son (also Norman), the first Baron McCorquodale: see www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk.
Constance and Norman McCorquodale are in www.thepeerage.com which uses Burke’s Peerage as its main source.
Winslow Hall: a photograph of it at www.winslowhallopera.co.uk and some history; and there’s also a page on it in wikipedia.
24 APRIL 1897
Isabel’s nephew Charles Verney Lace died; he was the only son of Isabel’s brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace.
Source, though a puzzlingly long time after the event:
Notes and Queries issue of 1904 p483 a reference to an obituary of Charles Verney Lace giving his DOD as 24 April 1897. I couldn’t find a death registration on freebmd so perhaps he died abroad.
Comment by Sally Davis: although Isabel may not have known her nephew very well, his death must have been a sad occasion for her. Charles Verney Lace was only 37, and had no children, meaning that although Isabel’s father had many descendants, from 1897 on there was no possibility of any of them having his surname.
JULY and AUGUST 1897
Isabel’s translation of The Cloud upon the Sanctuary was serialised in Lucifer.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine volume XX numbers 119 and 120: Isabel’s translation of The Cloud…
7 and 28 AUGUST 1897
Letters in Light from Isabel contributed to an on-going debate about immortality and the astral world.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their new address, 110 St Martin’s Lane. Volume 17 January-December 1897: issue of 7 August 1897 pp382-83; issue of 28 August 1897 pp423-24.
Comments on this arcane debate by Sally Davis: Isabel’s first letter was a response to one published in the issue of 3 July 1897 from William R Tomlinson MA, a regular contributor this year but not in previous years. Tomlinson had argued that a person’s soul would not necessarily be punished after death for sins the person had committed in life. Isabel mentioned an article by Bertram Keightley from Lucifer in March 1896 in which Keightley had argued the opposite, with the result that a sinful dead person could no longer achieve immortality. Isabel agreed with Keightley, but she stated that, in any case, she regarded immortality as to be given only to those who sought it; it was not a birth-right.
That letter provoked a response from regular writer Quaestor Vitae which was published in the issue of 14 August. Isabel’s letter published 28 August 1897 was a response to Quaestor Vitae’s, in which she described the astral world as a place where the destruction of souls was continuous, nevertheless “touch[ing] in no wise the Universal whatever may be exactly meant by this word”.
In the letter of 7 August 1897 Isabel took the opportunity to suggest to Charles Carleton Massey
that if he could see his way to translating from the German the works of Franz Baader there would be an audience for them in the English-speaking world.
Some information on Benedikt Franz Xaver Baader (1765-1841): a quick look through the British Library catalogue seems to suggest that Massey didn’t take Isabel up on this one. Baader was Roman Catholic, from Bavaria. After retiring from work as a mining engineer, in 1826 he began a second career as professor of philosophy and speculative theology at the new university of Munich. Baader had discovered the works of St Martin and Boehme/Böhme while living in England in the 1790s. Perhaps there is a connection with James Pierrepont Greaves and thus to Ann Judith Penny there, with Isabel learning of Baader’s publications from Mrs Penny; though Baader’s wikipedia page does not give any details of who Baader knew while in England. Baader developed a philosophy quite close to that of theosophy. He held the interesting view that in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had been hermaphrodite and therefore asexual; part of the punishment following their Fall was the creation of the two genders, and sex. Modern scholarship credits Baader with rediscovering and promoting the work of Meister Eckhart.
Source for Baader: his English-language wikipedia page.
2 OCTOBER 1897
Edward Maitland died. The next time Isabel wrote a letter to be published in Light she
referred to him as an “old friend”, a “high and lofty thinker and of a blameless life”.
Date and place of the death: probate registry entry 1899.
Maitland’s wikipedia page says that Maitland had been living in Tonbridge with friends. He was suffering from an (unspecified) illness and for the last few months of his life was so ill that he was unable to speak.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their new address, 110 St Martin’s Lane. Volume 17 January-December 1897. On Maitland’s death: issue of 9 October 1897 p489 quick note; issue of 16 October 1897 p503 with a little biographical information sent them by Colonel Currie, with whom Maitland had been living, and pp503-05 an appreciation of Maitland’s life by Samuel Hopgood Hart. Hart ended by saying that Maitland could now “make one bright and glorious star” with Anna Bonus Kingsford; ignoring the rights of Maitland’s dead wife and Kingsford’s still-living husband in the matter of partnerships in the afterlife.
Isabel’s response: Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Published London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 17 pp546-47 issue of 13 November 1897 at the end of her letter Conditional Immortality.
Comments on it by Sally Davis: though Isabel was clearly sorry to hear that Maitland had died, his death was not the blow to her that Anna Bonus Kingsford’s death had been. It was Anna who had been Isabel’s great friend, and Anna that Isabel had understood to be the great seer and mystic. I find Isabel’s need to put in a reference to Maitland’s ‘blameless life’ interesting. When he and Kingsford were working closely together on the works published as The Perfect Way and The Virgin of the World, there were many rumours about the exact nature of the relationship between a man whose wife was nowhere to be seen and a woman who spent most of her time living apart from her husband.
A bit of family history stuff as so little was known at the time and is known now about Maitland’s family. When Maitland died, even Colonel Currie was unsure of the details. Edward Maitland had married Esther Charlotte Bradley in the 1850s while he was living in New South Wales. Their son, Charles Bradley Maitland, had been born in Goulburn in 1856 and Esther had died that year, probably as a result of the birth. Charles had trained as a doctor at Edinburgh University, qualifying in 1879. He’d joined the Indian Medical Service, serving mostly in military campaigns in Africa. He was killed in a skirmish in Somaliland in February 1901. He had married Margaret Louisa, daughter of Major-General William Hamilton Richards. They had one son, Fitzroy Hamilton Maitland, 1896-1981.
Sources for the Maitlands: //homepages.rootsweb.com on the Richards family of Wexford and their connections. And British Medical Journal issue of 9 March 1901 p610 obituary of Lt-Col Charles Bradley Maitland.
BY ?NOVEMBER 1897
Isabel’s painting The Enchantress had probably been sold. GD member Frederick Leigh Gardner had seen it and told Isabel that he’d liked to own it one day.
Source: Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73 - a letter from Isabel to Frederick Leigh Gardner. The corner where the address and date had been has been cut away; but a handwritten note by Gerald Yorke says it was written on 11 November 1897. Yorke doesn’t say why he’s so sure of the date but perhaps it was because he had noted down what was on the corner that was cut away.
Comment from Sally: it’s not clear from the letter exactly when Gardner had seen The Enchantress. Isabel had exhibited it in Liverpool in 1883 and in Dublin in 1885 and not since; so I’m not sure why it should be mentioned in a letter written so much later. Perhaps it hadn’t sold in the 1880s and Gardner had seen it in Isabel’s studio more recently. Gardner was a stockbroker - he could easily have afforded to buy a painting by Isabel. But he hadn’t bought this one; nor had Isabel given it to him as a gift. The text of the letter reads as if Isabel no longer had the painting in her possession. So presumably, someone else had bought it.
IN NOVEMBER 1897
Isabel had a pupil.
Source: Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73 - the same letter from Isabel to Frederick Leigh Gardner that I refer to immediately above this entry; probably written 11 November 1897.
Comment by Sally: Isabel mentions that as an artist she has a pupil as a glancing reference in a letter about other subjects. I haven’t found any other reference to this pupil, so I can’t say who it was or how long the arrangement lasted.
13 NOVEMBER 1897
Isabel’s Conditional Immortality, a long letter-cum-article, was published in Light. In it, Isabel said that though she liked to range widely in her search for answers to life’s important questions, she believed that Christianity was the true religion of the immortality of the individual, as it taught the doctrine of (Isabel’s quote marks) ‘the whole’.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their new address, 110 St Martin’s Lane. Volume 17 January-December 1897: issue of 13 November 1897 pp546-47: Conditional Immortality. Isabel was replying to an article by her friend Charles Carleton Massey which had appeared in Light on 21 August 1897. In the issue of 18 December 1897 p615 Isabel’s letter of 13 November received a reply from Frances Ellen Burr FTS, of Hartford Connecticut, praising Isabel’s article in rather muted terms, as “readable” and “comprehensive in scope”.
Comment by Sally Davis. Both Massey’s article and Isabel’s response were part of the theme that had been running through Light for several months, one thread of which was speculation about the body after death. What the human body would look like at the resurrection; and would Jesus have a body, were two of the issues being discussed.
Isabel was living at 90 Canning Street.
Comment by Sally Davis: I think Isabel must mean Canning Street in Edinburgh, to the west of the Prince’s Street Gardens; though Liverpool also has a Canning Street near where Isabel had spent her childhood.
Source for the street but not the town: Theosophical Society membership register though there’s no precise date.
VERY DIFFICULT TO DATE but likely to be 1898 at the earliest
Isabel went to a talk by Ebenezer Howard, and got involved with the garden city movement.
Source for her going to the talk: Memorabilia p99 but the date of the talk is a problem. Isabel remembers it as being during her time living in London; which she left in 1891.
Comment by Sally Davis: all the sources I’ve seen for Ebenezer Howard suggest that he did not publicise his garden cities scheme until shortly before his book on the subject was published – To-Morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform London: Swan Sonnenschein 1898. I really think Isabel must have got the date of the talk wrong, because she says that at the end of it, she paid 1 shilling for a share in the company that was being set up to build a garden city; and did some publicity work for the scheme. Two companies were founded to raise money for a garden city; but not until 1902 – so see 1902 for the next instalment.
8 JANUARY 1898
A letter from Isabel appeared in Light in which she castigated a recent book by Frank Podmore.
Comments by Sally Davis: Isabel didn’t name the book that annoyed her but it must be Podmore’s Studies in Psychical Research, published late in 1897. She’d come across it while she was in a public library and her hackles were probably well up before she began to thumb through its pages – Podmore was a well-known sceptic when it came to the claims of spiritualism’s mediums. In her letter she accused the book of being superficial and infantile, and behind the times. She wasn’t the only one taking issue with Podmore. Light’s editor had done so already; and ‘An Old Occultist’, another regular writer to Light did so a couple of weeks after Isabel, saying that the views were Podmore’s own, not those of the Society for Psychical Research.
Sally Davis on Frank Podmore (1856-1910). In her letter Isabel suggested that Podmore would “deeply regret” having published the book that had offended her, but I don’t suppose he ever did. Although a spiritualist and even a member of the British National Association of Spiritualists while he was at Oxford, he became disillusioned with all the claims made for spiritualism except that of telepathy. In the book Isabel spotted, he spent a whole chapter being critical of Blavatsky, accusing her of “systematic deception”. He was well aware of how spiritualist phenomena could be faked - he had joined the Society for Psychical Research while an undergraduate. He combined helping with the Society’s research, with social and political activism, working with Sidney Webb on investigating unemployment and being a founder member of the Fabian Society. His books were as likely to be reviewed in the British Medical Journal as they were in Light.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for its Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Isabel’s letter: issue of 8 January 1898 p15; letter from ‘An Old Occultist’: issue of 22 January 1898 p47. The comment by Light’s editor: issue of 27 November 1897.
Podmore’s book: Studies in Psychical Research. Published 1897, London and NewYork: G P Putnam’s Sons though the copy I read at the British Library was London: Kegan Paul Trench Trübner and Co. An attack on Helena Petrovna Blavatsky occupied chapter 6; my quote is from p105. Podmore also included Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland in a sweeping condemnation of theosophists (p40): “No opinion or delusion was too monstrous to find its adherents”; though Isabel seems to have overlooked this attack while thumbing through the book, as Podmore didn’t mention Kingsford by name.
For Podmore: ODNB volume 44 pp670-71.
BY APRIL 1898
Isabel had contributed 10 shillings to help fund a Congress of spiritualists.
Comments by Sally Davis: the Congress was being organised by the London Spiritualist Alliance, the ultimate owners of Light magazine. The Congress took place in London in June. No list of who attended it was published but I don’t think Isabel went to it.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for its Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Isabel’s donation: issue of 16 April 1898 p184. First announcement that it would take place from 19 to 24 June 1898 at the St James’s Hall Regent Street, where the London Spiritualist Alliance held its monthly meetings: issue of 22 January 1898 piii in the small ads section. Nearer the time Light published details of the main speakers and their subjects, and some of their talks were published in Light after the event, so Isabel will have been able to read most of the talks she might have gone to in person.
30 APRIL 1898
A letter to Light from Isabel defended theosophy against recent attacks by two GD members.
Comments by Sally Davis: Arthur Lovell was not actually a GD member yet – he was initiated at the Isis-Urania temple in London in January 1899. It’s not likely that Isabel was acquainted with him. Edward William Berridge, though, was a GD member Isabel knew from 1888/89 and will have remembered as a vigorous promoter of the teachings of the American mystic Thomas Lake Harris. Lovell had sent in a letter in response to the first of a series of articles by Berridge on ‘The Contradictions of Theosophy’, saying that Berridge’s laying bare of theosophy’s contradictions was an important piece of work. Isabel wrote as a member of the Theosophical Society from its earliest years – something neither Berridge nor Lovell could claim. She denied that Berridge’s work so far had laid bare any contradictions in theosophy. She also objected to Berridge’s belittling of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky as a “clever conjuror”, but not with any expectation of genuine debate: Berridge’s way of promoting Harris’s ideas was to denigrate the ideas of all possible rivals, and I expect she had seen it all before from him, though not so publically. Berridge’s set of articles continued into May 1898 and he belaboured the subject into the following year in shorter, stand-alone articles and letters; but Isabel didn’t challenge him again, not even when he turned to the trouncing of the works of Anna Bonus Kingsford. Clearly, she didn’t think Berridge was worth the effort.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for its Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. The first part of Berridge’s The Contradictions of Theosophy – issue of 19 March 1898 pp142-143. Part 2 was issue of 2 April 1898 p167; a part 3, not part of his original article was in issue 14 May 1898 p239, after Berridge had read volume 3 of Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine. Lovell’s letter in response to part 1 – issue of 16 April 1898 p191. Isabel’s letter – issue of 30 April 1898 p213. Lovell replied to Isabel’s criticisms in the issue of 7 May 1898 p227, standing by his original comments.
Lovell’s initiation: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986: p160. Lovell reached GD membership by way of freemasonry and Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) – not as common a route in the late 1890s as it had been in the GD’s early years.
Berridge’s series The Brotherhood of the New Life; an Epitome of the Works and Teachings of Thomas Lake Harris, originally set to be issued in 16 volumes, began in a small way with pamphlets printed in the early 1890s. Some at least of the Isis-Urania temple’s members had copies of them. Rather larger editions of some of the early volumes were published in 1897 by E W Allen.
ALSO 30 APRIL 1898
A letter from Isabel appeared in Light which had nothing to do with occult! On behalf of women hat-wearers she challenged the view that it was they who were solely responsible for the deaths of birds with beautiful feathers. The letter sheds light on aspects of Isabel’s character which didn’t usually see the light of day.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for its Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 30 April 1898 pp214-15. Other responses: issue of 14 May 1898 pp238-39 including one from a man Isabel must have known as a fellow admirer of Anna Bonus Kingsford: Samuel Hopgood Hart of Mulgrave House Sutton. Apologies for missing the publication details of Hawkins Simpson’s original letter.
Comments by Sally Davis: I’m not quite sure why Light published the letter Isabel was challenging, written by J Hawkins Simpson and headed: Female Vanity and Cruelty to Birds. It definitely didn’t qualify as psychical, occult or mystical. Nevertheless, its allegations provoked quite a response from Light’s readers. Isabel’s reply reminded Simpson that, in general, the makers and sellers of such hats were men; so men were also to blame for the cruelty. I’ve never got the impression that Isabel was a fashion fanatic but she had undertaken a tour of the local hat shops as part of her preparations for taking Simpson to task. She had discovered that feathers were not actually in fashion this year. Nothing I’ve ever read about Isabel has given me the impression that she had much of a sense of humour but I think that in this letter she made a joke: she suggested that Parliament pass a law imposing the death penalty on any man supplying bits of birds for hats.
At least, I hope it’s a joke.
As far as I know, Isabel was not a campaigner against the use of birds in hats, she just objected to Simpson’s dumping of the burden of guilt onto women alone. If she had known more about campaigning on the issue she would have been able to point out to Simpson and Light’s readers that three of its most prominent activists were women. What is now the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had been formed in 1889 when Margaretta Smith and Eliza Phillips of Fur Fin and Feather Folk merged their organisation with Emily Williamson’s Society for the Protection of Birds.
Just noting here that in 1892 Margaretta Smith married Frank Edward Lemon, son of GD member William George Lemon.
Source for the early days of the RSPB: see Margaretta Lemon’s wikipedia page and she’s also in ODNB.
4 JUNE 1898
Isabel entered a relatively new debate in Light with a letter about what went on during a ritual of initiation.
Comments by Sally Davis: Isabel had been reading a long article called Transcendental Psychology, being published in Light over many issues and written by the writer calling him or herself Quaestor Vitae. Isabel had found earlier articles by this writer interesting and challenging. This time she disagreed with his or her suggestion that people could be initiated while under the influence of mesmerism. Isabel believed that initiations in such circumstances couldn’t be authentic: initiation was like forging steel, using heat to activate energies latent in the metal. I imagine Isabel had enough experience of mesmerism to feel doubtful that those energies could be reached when a person had been mesmerised. Arthur Lovell duly sent a reply to Isabel’s thoughts. It’s a pity that Isabel was not going to GD rituals in London: if she’d been going to them in 1899 she would have met Arthur Lovell sooner or later and been able to talk these things over in person. Isabel also received a reply, with clarification, from Quaestor Vitae, thanking her for pointing out that what he or she had written was open to misunderstanding.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Isabel’s letter: issue of 4 June 1898 p276. Lovell’s comments: issue of 11 June 1898 p287. And Quaestor Vitae’s response: issue of 16 July 1898 pp353-54.
OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 1898
Isabel will have read in Light some coverage of the works and beliefs of Anna Bonus Kingsford. She did not write in with any comments on them.
Comment by Sally Davis: I find it surprising that Isabel chose not to enter any debate with the writers of these comments on her great friend’s legacy. The first was an editorial in the issue of 8 October and perhaps Isabel would have had no quarrel with its assertion that for Kingsford, the essence of the Christian religion was not Jesus the historical person, but the spiritual Christ. The second was a short letter from Edward William Berridge entitled Some Prophecies of the late Dr Anna Kingsford. I wonder what was keeping her so busy that she didn’t respond. Perhaps it was the letters I mention immediately below.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 8 October 1898 p489; issue of 5 November 1898 p542.
1 OCTOBER and 5 NOVEMBER 1898
Letters from Isabel didn’t express very well her thoughts on the levels of consciousness humans might experience on other planes of existence. During her second letter she gave her own definition of a mystic: someone who“does not confuse the shadowy realities of this plane for the substantial ones of the next”.
Comments from Sally Davis: this particularly obscure discussion had been going on in Light for a while. Isabel’s first letter was replying to one by a writer calling themselves Scriba, and took its starting point from the occult belief that the physical world humans inhabit is only shadows; and that we also inhabit other planes of existence. But her attempts to explain that one human could inhabit one plane at a high level of consciousness, while inhabiting another plane at a low level just confused Scriba, who wrote back saying he or she didn’t understand Isabel at all. Isabel tried again, with that definition of a mystic and an assertion that mysticism and confusion were opposites – but Scriba was still baffled. In what could be seen as a peep into Isabel’s own attitude to time spent on other, non-physical, planes, in her second letter she wrote that any longing for such an existence had to be set against the duties and cares you might have in the physical world.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research volume 18 January-December 1878. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Isabel’s letter: issue of
1 October 1898 p488 Isabel short letter: Time and Space. Issue of 5 November 1898 pp545-546 including the quote: Time and Space. A letter from Scriba which seems to have brought the exchange to an end: issue of 26 November 1898 p584.
?CHRISTMAS 1898 and NEW YEAR 1899
Isabel was in Liverpool.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 19 January-December 1899. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 14 January 1899 p23. Isabel didn’t give a more specific address but as her possessions were in Edinburgh at least until mid-1900 I take it this was a holiday visit, most probably to her friends William and Fanny Crosfield.
14 JANUARY 1899
Isabel argued against the use of easily-understood language to describe occult concepts.
Comments by Sally Davis: the evidence shows that in no part of her life was Isabel an egalitarian. Reading the editorial in Light’s last issue of 1898 she wrote in to argue that it would be “disastrous” and a “grievous injury to humanity” to do what the editor was suggesting, and reduce the difficult concepts involved in occult teachings to something which anyone could understand – what happened at the typical “materialisation séance”, for example, just couldn’t be explained that way. I can see what she means, but she so often gives the impression that she believes most people are unworthy of being given this kind of information, at whatever level of language.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 19 January-December 1899. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 31 December 1898: editorial which was itself a comment on something published in the magazine Harbinger of Light. Isabel’s own letter: issue of 14 January 1899 p23: Homely Language.
As usual, Light was short of funds. Isabel sent them 10 shillings and sixpence.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 19 January-December 1899. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 28 January 1899 p41 in a list of recent contributions.
3 JUNE 1899
A letter from Isabel took issue with a recent article by G R S Mead in which he criticised the translation work of Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland.
Comments by Sally Davis: the works of Anna Bonus Kingsford were still being discussed over a decade after her death. In April, Light had published an article by Edward William Berridge on Kingsford’s treatment by theosophists. Isabel’s complaint was about an item which had appeared in Theosophical Review (the new name for the theosophical magazine Lucifer) in which Mead had found fault with the translations in Kingsford and Maitland’s Virgin of the World. The proper place for comments on it would have been Theosophical Review itself but I think Isabel feared her letter wouldn’t be published if she sent it there.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 19 January-December 1899. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 22 April 1899 p189 Edward William Berridge: Theosophy on the Late Dr Anna Kingsford. He was replying to something he had read by “CWL” – that is, Charles Webster Leadbeater - in the Theosophical Society’s members’ magazine, The Vahan issue of 1 April 1899. Like Isabel, Berridge too had decided that his response would be ignored if he sent it to the Theosophical Society. Isabel’s letter: issue of 3 June 1899 p263. She was particularly referring to Kingsford’s translation of a work by Asclepius.
The Hermetic Works. The Virgin of the World...Now First Rendered into English with essay, introduction and notes by Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland. London: G Redway 1885.
Isabel tried to explain how reincarnation related to theosophy and spiritualism.
Comment by Sally Davis: reincarnation was a perennial subject in Light – whether it existed; whether it could be combined with, say, Christianity; whether it was part of the ancient mystery religions. Speaking as one of the earliest members of the Theosophical Society in England, Isabel argued that though the idea of reincarnation had been understood in ancient times, it had not been a Christian doctrine; and that the concept had entered modern occultism via spiritualism. She stated that it wasn’t mentioned by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in her Isis Unveiled, published in 1877. Instead it had been promoted in the 1880s as a part of theosophy by Francesca Arundale – Isabel remembered Francesca reading her pamphlet A Plea for Reincarnation at an early TS meeting - and by Anna Bonus Kingsford and Edward Maitland who agreed with the views of the French spiritualist Allen Kardec, that spiritualism and reincarnation could be combined. Isabel remembered reincarnation first being put forward as being part of Light on the Path in an article in the magazine Banner of Light by a writer calling themselves “MC” who had received the words of the article when acting as a medium at a séance. As so often in her letters of recent years, Isabel urged people wanting further information to read the works of classical writers on the subject. This brought a response from Andrew Cattanach, an acquaintance of Isabel’s in Edinburgh, who took her to task on several counts. As well as having a busy social life in the TS and GD, Cattanach had a full-time job, working for Cowan and Co, the paper manufacturers. He reminded Isabel that not everyone had time for the kind of study she was advocating of works that were very difficult to interpret. He also felt that if reincarnation existed it didn’t really matter how the doctrine had got into modern theosophy, and noted that reincarnation was still not one of the Theosophical Society’s “three objects”. Members were therefore at liberty not to believe in it if they didn’t want to – he and Isabel had at least one acquaintance in common who didn’t want to.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 19 January-December 1899. London: published for the Proprietors at 110 St Martin’s Lane. Issue of 24 June 1899 pp299-300: letter from Isabel: Concerning Reincarnation. Though she didn’t give the person’s identity away, Isabel may have known who “MC” was; she mentioned “MC” as being known to Colonel Henry Olcott. Andrew Cattanach’s reply: issue of 8 July 1899 p324.
Andrew Petri Cattanach as an employee of Cowan and Co: information sent to me by Kenneth Jack, who was researching Scottish freemasons.
Though I could not find a membership registration for Andrew Cattanach in the Theosophical Society’s Membership Registers in London, Andrew and his wife Margaret were members of the TS’s Edinburgh Lodge by 1892. Andrew sponsored a large number of new members, some of whom went on to join the GD as well. He was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn himself in 1893; though Margaret never joined it.
After not exhibiting any art works for several years, Isabel was preparing for a one-woman show.
Source: Memorabilia p279.
Comment by Sally: a one-person exhibition is a great honour for any artist and during Isabel’s lifetime it was almost unheard of for a woman to be offered one. Unfortunately Isabel doesn’t mention where the exhibition was going to be held. I’d bet on it being planned for either Edinburgh or Liverpool, but it doesn’t really matter all that much, because the show never took place.
After almost thirty years as vicar of Temple Ewell in Kent, Isabel’s brother-in-law Rev John Turnbull (husband of her sister Helena) became rector of Great Linford Buckinghamshire. He remained in post there until his death in 1922 and his children continued to live in the area after the death of both their parents.
Alumni Cantabrigiensis seen on web so no volume number visible, but p244 in that volume.
SUMMER 1900, BEFORE AUGUST
Isabel seems to have been between addresses yet again at this time, and had put most of her possessions into store in Edinburgh while she went on her annual visit to Mrs Atwood in Yorkshire. While she was away, a fire in the Edinburgh storage warehouse destroyed virtually everything she owned, including - most catastrophically of all - most of her finished paintings and all the paraphernalia that surrounds making art - sketches, notebooks, easels, paint brushes, paints etc. Andrew Cattanach went to rescue what he could, but all he was able to save were two trunks of books. When she claimed on her insurance for her lost possessions, Isabel got £500 and a lecture on being under-insured.
Source: Memorabilia p181, pp279-280.
Comments by Sally Davis: no amount of money could make up for the loss of the results of thirty years of painting.
All my files on Isabel seem to end on a tragic note!
COPYRIGHT SALLY DAVIS
28 February 2023
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